Royal honor for Max Verstappen: Appointed Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau
Max Verstappen was appointed an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau on Thursday. The first Formula 1 world champion with Dutch citizenship, Verstappen was presented with the royal honor by Conny Helder, the Minister for Long-term Care and Sport.
"This is a very proud moment for me and comes very unexpectedly, so early in my career," said Verstappen. "I want to thank my family and loved ones, but also Red Bull that is like a second family to me. We have achieved this together."
According to Minister Helder, Verstappen is "a great inspiration for many," she said at the ceremony. "There is much more to becoming a champion than just talent. Many years of hard work and long hours, not giving up, and persistence. And in the end you are the first Dutchman to drive to the Formula 1 world title. What a fantastic achievement. With this, you have also put the Netherlands on the map across the world."
The Dutch motorsport federation, KNAF, gave Verstappen the Dutch racing license with number 1 in honor of his appointment as Officer. "To say that this award is well deserved is putting it mildly," said KNAF interim chair Jan de Wit. "What an achievement, what an impressive career, what an ambassador you are for our country and our sport. That's why we thought it was appropriate to make a small gesture."
Verstappen captured the Formula 1 world title last year after a nerve-wracking battle with Lewis Hamilton that lasted until the final lap of the final race. The 24-year-old Dutch man passed his British rival on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi GP, taking the lead and securing the title in his favor. This year, Verstappen is unrivaled at the top of the World Cup standings, and is heading for his second straight world title.
The Grand Prix of the Netherlands will take place in Zandvoort this Sunday. Last year, Verstappen won that race in front of his own audience. The GP weekend in Zandvoort starts on Friday with two practices, followed by qualifying on Saturday.
Verstappen made his Formula 1 debut in 2015. A year later, he won his first race in Barcelona. He had just switched from Toro Rosso, now called AlphaTauri, to Red Bull, the organization who he still drives for after signing a five-year deal worth 40-50 million euros per year this past March..
Reporting by ANP